Six months ago, today, I was trying desperately to go about my day as usual. But there was a little airplane on my computer monitor that continued to beckon my attention as I tracked Josh and Alethia's airplane across the ocean.
This was actually happening.
Alethia was really coming home!
Not to our hut we called home for nearly 3 months in Uganda, but to America.
Six months ago today.
So much has happened in the past 6 months.
I feel as though we have all adjusted well to all the transitions our family has encountered over this short span of time, though.
It's been a lot to take in, quite honestly.
We made it through the initial shock of her arrival.
And then we added another little bundle to our colony just 3 1/2 weeks later.
About a month after that the calm honeymoon season was over as Alethia began to realize that we weren't going anywhere. That SHE wasn't going anywhere. She needed to find her permanent "place" within our family.
We are far from "there", but we are getting closer. It is a continual process that I'm not sure will ever be complete. But then again, is our relationship with ANYONE ever complete? It will just keep growing and getting stronger.
We'll keep messing up, sometimes pulling away and often times having to take a few steps back, but we are committed!
The past month or so, maybe brought on through the adoption process of her best friend who is still waiting on her VISA in Uganda, has brought a lot of questions to the surface.
Alethia is very aware of the fact that Jude used to be in my tummy. I think one day it clicked that Jude, you know, baby Jude, the one that we play with on the floor as we stuff his toes in his mouth and give kisses between his neck rolls, was THE baby Jude in her mommies tummy. That growing round tummy that was the only tummy she'd ever seen her new mommy have.
One day as she rubbed my flat belly telling me, as she so often did during this season, that "baby Jude not in your tummy anymore?", she looked up at me and asked "Was me in daddy's tummy?"
I smiled as I tried to explain that she wasn't in my tummy OR daddy's tummy. She was in her birth mommy's tummy until God brought her to us. That answer seemed to be sufficient for the time, but I know harder questions are going to come...
...and they have already begun.
Her memories of her final months in Uganda continue to come to the surface, little by little. Something triggers an emotion or a memory every few days or so and she'll want to talk about it. Never in a sad way, just in a "remember when" kind of way.
I think the hardest thing, by far, was the day that she saw a row of boxes in the closet. After realizing that they were the kids' baby boxes she was determined to see what was inside of them. The other kids were so excited to show her their baby blankets, some of my favorite outfits they wore as an infant, pregnancy calendars, NB knitted hats and cards people wrote while I was pregnant with them, that I could hardly say no!
As I carefully brought the treasured boxes down she had this look of anticipation on her face, just wondering what she would find in those boxes.
I left the kids in the girls room to go through their boxes until they were satisfied, knowing that the contents weren't all that exciting to them...yet.
When they were done I went in to put the boxes back up on the shelf. Alethia watched me very intently. As I placed the last box on the shelf Areyna looked at me and said, "Alethia wants to know where HER box is."
.tears welling in my eyes.
Nothing is coming.
I pull Alethia close.
I pull her box down.
I open it up.
There it is.
Her one thing.
Her little pillow from the orphanage.
I try to tell her that we are working hard on hers. We are making new memories as a new family and that the box will be so full soon that we'll have to get another one soon!
Her gaze dropped to the floor.
I know it gets easier. I KNOW it gets easier. I've seen it get easier.
It's been six months since our sweet Alethia entered into our forever, for good.
We don't have to go to sleep with a picture of her anymore, wondering if she will ever be part of our family.
She is growing like a weed. Her clothes can prove it. I'm seeing it with my own eyes.
She is letting her self-protecting walls down. I'm seeing it with my own eyes.
Her hair has grown from a shiny bald little head to almost 6 inches now. I'm seeing it with my own eyes.
She is learning to work out her frustrations with words instead of with screaming, shoulder nudges and ugly faces. I'm seeing it with my own eyes.
She is giddy-excited to start school in a few weeks! I'm seeing it with my own eyes.
She is sharing food instead of melting down if I give her unwanted bites to Cai. I'm seeing it with my own eyes.
I am beginning to see her as my own. MY own. I can feel it in my own heart.
And these kinds of things you can't put in a box.